Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah Mawhinney, Physiotherapist, Hand Clinic

In celebration of Physiotherapy Month, we sat down with Sarah Mawhinney and talked about her role as a physiotherapist at Joseph Brant Hospital. Sarah shares the rewards of her role, a common misconception about the profession and a heart-warming story about one of her clients.

Tell us about your role here at Jo Brant.

I work full-time in the Hand and Upper Limb Clinic at JBH. Most of our referrals come from the orthopaedic surgeons and plastic surgeons, and they primarily send people that have had some sort of trauma to their upper extremities. Some conditions are traumatic, but most are post-traumatic, and we assist them towards a full recovery.

What do you love most about physiotherapy and your role at JBH?

I get to see progress, and I think that's what makes my job so rewarding. We see people almost right after their surgeries, so we do splinting and bracing to protect them while they heal, but then we also get to see them throughout their therapy. So we go from seeing someone who has a hand they can't use at all to returning to work and doing the things they love. And I think that's what I love most about my role and about physiotherapy. We get to see progress first-hand, and be with our patients the whole way through their recovery.

What is a common misconception about physiotherapy?

I'm not sure if I would call it a misconception, but rather just something people aren't aware of, but it is that physiotherapists have a wide range of different roles. There are physiotherapists like myself, who work in an outpatient specialty clinic environment, and then there are also physiotherapists in the hospital working with rehab patients that can have neurological impairments, or people that just underwent surgery and are trying to get up and out of bed. There are also physiotherapists in the Emergency Department who make judgments on whether or not people are ready to go home. So there is just a real variety of roles that physiotherapists play, and I think that's something that many people aren't aware of.

Can you share a special memory or patient experience that has made a big impact on you?

I had worked with a patient who suffered a traumatic injury to his dominant arm, which also injured his radial nerve, so he underwent multiple surgeries to fix the fracture and the nerve. As we worked toward restoring his range of motion and his strength, we realized that since he hadn't used his arm in so long, he essentially forgot how to use it. So we really had to break down seemingly simple tasks that you would usually do every day without paying much attention, such as shaving or combing your hair. And as we worked on this, I felt really lucky to work so closely with the occupational therapists, as they helped me with task break down for the patient to assist with a full recovery. And seeing this patient progress so incredibly well over time was a testament to why I'm in the profession I'm in. It really hit home how much I appreciate being with my patients every step of the way towards their recovery, and having that positive impact on their lives.

Closing Remarks:

Physiotherapy is truly a great profession, and it is amazing to work as part of such a supportive team. Even though there are so many different roles, we are all supportive of each other while at the same time continuously learning from one another.


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